In September and November of 1863, more than 100,000 Union and Confederate soldiers met on the battlefields of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. The prize: Control of critical rail lines and Chattanooga, the “Gateway to the Deep South.”
The front stretched across 150 miles of dense forests, steep mountain slopes, broad fields, and rushing streams. The fighting was difficult and fierce. In September, the Confederate army scored a major victory at Chickamauga, but it would prove to be the South’s last stand. In November, the Union army took control of Chattanooga, and General Sherman began preparations to march his troops to Atlanta.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was established by Congress in 1890 to commemorate the battle and preserve the area for study by military historians. The site includes more than 1,400 historical markers and monuments, many of which were placed by veterans of the campaigns.
There are several ways to experience this scenic and moving site. A 7-mile auto tour guides you to key spots with a colorful, narrated history. You can explore the visitor center, which includes an impressive collection of military arms and James Walker’s massive painting, “The Battle of Lookout Mountain.” For a bird’s eye view of the battlefield, head to Point Park on Lookout Mountain.
If You Go:
On certain summer weekends, you can witness Civil War living history programs and demonstrations of the lives of soldiers on the battlefield.
According to an assessment by the Center for State of the Parks, the civil war parks of Tennessee face several common challenges. Primary among them are funding shortfalls that limit the Park Service's ability to preserve historic sites and tell the stories of our American heritage.
Also of critical concern at all four parks covered in the report is adjacent development that mars historical and scenic views that are essential to bring the story to life and providing visitors with a memorable experience. Read more about the threats faced by these parks in NPCA's report Tennessee's Civil War National Parks.